Use Us for What We're Good For

When I met my future husband, Tony Mims, he used to ask me if I “knew who I was talking to.” As time went on, it became apparent to me that there was much more to the man than I realized at first. Then I understood what he meant when he said to “use him for everything he’s good for.” We all walk around making assumptions about people and situations all the time. Our assumptions are usually based on past experiences. Often our assumptions prove correct, making us even more likely to assume, in the future, that our assumptions are always correct. The truth is though, that our assumptions often get in the way of our success.

I’ve noticed, after two years of booking acts for Listen & Be Heard Poetry Café, communicating with the artists and producers, who are quite often the same people, that people can and do make all kinds of assumptions. In many cases it’s more like wishful thinking, or even a daydream. Anyone over the age of thirty who is an entertainer and not already a pop star, either knows that they have dedicated their life to a pursuit that is not likely to make them rich, or even middle class, or lives in a dream world, where a little café in Vallejo is really a big stage, that rhythm section is really a big band, and the audience of the interested few is really a crowd of adoring fans. Most of the under thirty crowd is still dreaming that they will be a pop star before they turn thirty.

The way I see success, as a middle aged writer and entertainer myself, is to have created a body of work, to have made your voice audible in your community, to have made lasting and meaningful connections that give birth to opportunities and take on a life of their own. Being a part of this partnership between Tony and I that has created Listen & Be Heard Poetry Café, is an extension of the idea that we are all creators. If you just want to be a part of a cultural community, then all you have to do is enter and say “hello.” Use us to meet interesting people, listen to something you’ll never hear on television or get away from the assembly-line experience of entertainment. If you are an entertainer and have thought about stepping on to our stage, we have put ourselves here to be used. But not abused.

What is the best way to use us? First of all you have to believe in what you’re doing. Next you have to be willing to work to promote what you believe in. After that you have to be willing to work to promote what you believe in. If you’re already a star then you’re already beyond making an appearance at the café, but if you’re interested in cultivating an appreciative audience, working on your craft in an encouraging environment and just need a venue to put on the flier, so that you can take that flier and put it in people’s hands…then you have the right idea. Introduce yourself by participating. We have an acoustic jam session every Saturday morning, a comedy open mic most Tuesdays and a poetry open mic every Friday. If you have a CD or book to sell, you can take advantage of our publication to have your work reviewed. You can think about being part of our new Saturday Café concept that will be starting in August, 2007, featuring a variety of entertainers with products to sell to the people who want to listen to them.

We won’t promise you a record deal, or pay you for an empty house either. We do promise to keep the doors open, though. We promise that you will be treated with the respect that you deserve. So please come right through the doors into a unique venue. Get to know us and use us for what we’re good for.

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